Posted on March 7, 2016 by Tessa Boyce
Not everyone loves horror movies, but most people can remember peeking through their fingers or covering their ears the first time they experienced a good scare from a movie.
Unfortunately, sometimes horror movies run the risk of being cliché, predictable gore-fests. Films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer have similar plots that follow teenagers in distress. Other horror movies are even more ridiculous and leave us in tears — of laughter. Zombie Strippers, The Gingerdead Man and Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror are all cringe-worthy horror movies that actually exist.
Sometimes, though, directors get it right and create a horror movie that is scary without being ridiculous. This week, the highly-anticipated horror film 10 Cloverfield Lane will be released, and fans hope it will fall into the successful camp of scary movies. Though the jury’s still out on this film, PrettyFamous got into the horror movie mood by finding the 25 highest-rated horror films of all time. The films are ranked by Smart Rating (a score out of 100 which takes into account Metacritic, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Gracenote ratings, as well as inflation-adjusted U.S. box office totals). Each film had to have at least 25,000 votes on IMDb, and all had to be labeled as a “horror” in Gracenote’s genre classifications. Ties were broken by total number of IMDb votes.
From classic tales of Transylvanian blood suckers, to aliens stowing away on futuristic space ships, take a look at these highly-rated horror movies — then check for something creeping under the bed.
Smart Rating: 92.09
Universal Studios purchased the rights to Dracula from Bram Stoker’s widow and Hamilton Deane (who wrote the play) for a reported $40,000. They have since produced multiple versions of the creepy tale, but there is nothing like the original, which stars Italian actor Bela Lugosi, who was reportedly buried in his Dracula cape.
24. The Shining
Smart Rating: 92.17
Most audiences still remember the line “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” as well as Jack Nicholson’s leering face coming through the door with an axe, sneering, “Here’s Johnny!” Director Stanley Kubrick adapted Stephen King‘s novel into a horrifying film that skillfully intertwines reality and the supernatural.
23. A Nightmare on Elm Street
Smart Rating: 92.29
A Nightmare on Elm Street was director Wes Craven’s first foray into Freddy Krueger’s nightmarish world. It was also Johnny Depp‘s first role in a feature-length film.
Smart Rating: 92.52
Suspiria is a haunting Italian film about an American ballerina who travels to Europe to join a prestigious ballet academy, only to find out that gruesome murders occur all the time, and the academy’s director is a powerful witch. Suspiria is one of IMDb’s “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.”
21. Evil Dead 2
Smart Rating: 92.76
According to Rotten Tomatoes, Evil Dead 2 is “better, funnier, scarier and superior to the first indie gore-fest.” The film would not have been made without horror legend Stephen King, who helped director Sam Raimi secure financing when funding was cut due to lack of interest.
20. The Thing
Smart Rating: 92.95
The Thing was directed by horror movie mastermind John Carpenter. It features a young Kurt Russell as a terrified scientist, battling a murderous alien that can change into anything it touches. Although it is now a cult classic, The Thing came up short at the box office, which was particularly upsetting to Carpenter, who feels it was his best film.
Smart Rating: 93.22
Another classic John Carpenter film, Halloween was the original teenage horror flick. Every Halloween, audiences still enjoy watching young Jamie Lee Curtis run from Michael Myers, the psychopath who just won’t die.
18. The Tenant
Smart Rating: 93.23
The Tenant was directed by another horror film extraordinaire, Roman Polanski. He also stars in the film as an American living in Paris with the constant fear that his neighbors are conspiring against him and urging him to commit suicide.
17. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Smart Rating: 93.95
Invasion of the Body Snatchers was released in 1956, and is about the chaos that occurs when the population turns into emotionless clones. Many people interpret the film as a reflection of McCarthyism, which revolved around the fear of a tyrannical government forcing the population to become homogenized workers.
16. Dawn of the Dead
Smart Rating: 94.09
Not to be confused with the hilarious 2004 remake, Shawn of the Dead, this cult classic was one of the original zombie thrillers. Of course, it was produced before the days of CGI (Computer-generated Imagery), so each zombie was individually made up. The film employed over 50 makeup artists, and zombies with missing limbs were played by actual amputees, according to IMDb.
Smart Rating: 94.09
Freaks revolves around a woman plotting to murder her fiancé to receive his inheritance. The film takes place under a creepy circus tent, and this is where the real horror lies. Because of its disturbing nature, Freaks was banned in the United Kingdom and Australia, and one woman even claimed viewing it caused her to have a miscarriage, according to IMDb.
Smart Rating: 94.26
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” is one of the most memorable lines from the 1975 thriller —and apparently it was ad-libbed by Roy Schneider. Audiences are still entertained by Steven Spielberg’s classic film, Jaws. Spielberg named the hungry Great White “Bruce,” and three mechanical Bruces, each costing over $250,000, were used in filming.
Smart Rating: 94.37
One of the most classic horror movies of all time, Nosferatu is still terrifying audiences 94 years after its release. Sweden even deemed the film so terrifying that it was banned there until 1972.
12. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Smart Rating: 94.37
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford each put on engrossing performances in this twisted family tale. Joan Crawford plays Blanche, a disabled woman devoted to her psychotic sister, Baby Jane, played by Bette Davis. Bette Davis was nominated for an Oscar for her leading role.
11. Night of the Living Dead
Smart Rating: 94.37
Another early zombie film, Night of the Living Dead is now a cult classic, and one of the highest-grossing independent films ever made. The word “zombie” is never mentioned in the film — characters refer to them as “those things” or “ghouls.”
10. The Exorcist
Smart Rating: 94.40
According to IMDb, The Exorcist is one of Warner Brothers’ highest grossing films of all time. Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair were each nominated for an Oscar for their performances. The Exorcist was also the first horror movie to be nominated for an Academy Award for best picture.
9. Let the Right One In
Smart Rating: 94.61
The most recent film on our list, Let the Right One In is a Swedish film about a young boy who befriends a strange, creepy girl with an unusual diet. The title refers to the myth that vampires cannot enter a home without first being invited inside.
8. Rosemary’s Baby
Smart Rating: 94.66
Another Roman Polanski film, Rosemary’s Baby features a young Mia Farrow as innocent Rosemary Woodhouse, a newlywed who has just moved into the wrong neighborhood. Entertainment Weekly rated Rosemary’s Baby as one of the scariest movies of all time.
7. Bride of Frankenstein
Smart Rating: 94.8
Universal Studios decided to capitalize on the success of the original Frankenstein film by bringing a new creation to theaters. Apparently, Boris Karloff lost 20 pounds sweating in his uncomfortably hot and heavy Frankenstein costume.
Smart Rating: 94.8
“It’s alive! It’s alive!” was ranked as the 49th greatest movie quote of all time by the American Film Institute. Frankenstein is based off the famous novel by Mary Shelley, and was one of the most popular movies released in the 1930s. Despite the film’s success, the actor who played Frankenstein, Boris Karloff, was not invited to the premiere, because Universal did not consider him a major actor.
Smart Rating: 95.3
The third Roman Polanski film on our list, Repulsion stars Catherine Deneuve as a woman plagued by psychological fears of abuse. It was Polanski’s first feature-length film in English, and ranks in IMDb’s “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.”
4. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Smart Rating: 95.37
The oldest film on this list, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is considered to be one of the first true horror films ever made, and the number four highest-rated horror film of all time. The German thriller is about mysterious Dr. Caligari, who has the ability to predict crimes … or perhaps he is committing them himself?
Smart Rating: 95.94
Psycho is a classic horror film that doesn’t cease to scare, even 56 years after being released. It was Director Alfred Hitchcock’s first horror movie, and many would argue, his best. For some of us, Alfred Hitchcock managed to instill a permanent fear of hotel showers and mama’s boys forever.
Smart Rating: 95.95
The original Alien was directed by Ridley Scott. It begins when the spaceship Nostromo receives a distress call to an unknown planet. Sigourney Weaver, who plays tough-chick Ripley, leads the rescue mission. Nostromo arrives, only to find the planet with no survivors and an unknown visitor. In 2004, Bravo listed the chest-bursting scene as the second-scariest movie moment of all time.
Smart Rating: 96.31
57 years later, planet LV-426 is still causing problems, this time on a much larger scale. James Cameron directed the Alien sequel, and Sigourney Weaver reprises her role as Ripley. Aliens is the highest-ranked horror movie of all time, and was also ranked as the 42nd greatest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Best Horror Movies by Smart Rating
Last Updated on March 9, 2016.